German Police Smash Dark Web Child Porn Network With 400,000 Members

The dark web platform “Boystown” has more than 400,000 registered users. It is majorly involved in sharing content depicting the sexual abuse of minors. Four people have been arrested so far for their connection to this platform.

It is safe to say that majority of its users are pedophiles. According to Europol, the operation that led to crashing this dark web platform also led to the discovery and shut down of several other dark web chat sites used by pedophiles. Involved in this operation were law enforcement agencies from the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, and Australia.

The Arrests

German Police Smash Dark Web Child Porn Network With 400,000 Members
german police crash dark web child porn network with over 400,000 members

Three men between the ages of 40-64 were arrested in Germany after their connection to the site was established. The fourth arrest was made in Paraguay. He is German but has been living in Paraguay for several years. He is currently awaiting extradition back to Germany.

BBC reported that one of the suspects, a 64-year-old man from Hamburg, is one of the most prolific posters on this dark web, with over 3,500 posts depicting the serious sexual abuse of children.

Being ‘one of Europe’s most prolific child sex abuse platforms,’ Europol, in a statement announcing its seizure and closure, said that more arrests would be made. As the investigation into this dark website and its shared content continue, more arrests will very likely be made in multiple countries.

Talking about the size of the platform and the resilience of similar online communities, the statement said:

“Online child offender communities on the dark web exhibit considerable resilience in response to law enforcement actions targeting them. Their reactions include resurrecting old communities, establishing new communities, and making strong efforts to organize and administer them.”

The Demand For Child Sex Abuse Content

German Police Smash Dark Web Child Porn Network With 400,000 Members
german police crash dark web child porn network with over 400,000 members

Over the course of the pandemic, authorities report that children have become more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Between March and April 2020, data reported by the BBC showed that the demand for “obscene online material” doubled globally to over 4 million. On the other hand, the number of sites removed by tech companies was down by 89%.

The Boystown investigation is coming to light a year after the authorities warned that the demand for child sex abuse content saw a surge during the lockdown.

One Europol spokesperson said:

“Children are more vulnerable. They’re isolated, they’re not being as well supervised online, and they’re spending more time online during this period than they would have previously.

Those conditions lend themselves to children being approached in different ways or coerced or exploited.”

This is a cue for parents to be more alert, pay more attention to their kids and their activities online.